Most people come across at least one challenging relationship in their lives. Coming into contact with individuals who rub you the wrong way, like ‘sandpaper,’ seems to be an inevitable part of life. But is there a way to relate to these individuals in a graceful and compassionate way?

First, it’s important to identify who truly rubs you the wrong way. It’s usually a visceral feeling. When you interact with or see this person, an intensely irritating feeling in your body overwhelms you and you feel triggered.

Once you’ve identified the person, ask yourself what exactly it is that irritates you. It might be something simple like their habits or mannerisms, or it could be a deeper issue that brings something to the surface in you.

At this point you have a choice. You could sit with the emotion that comes up and make peace with it. For instance, does your mother-in-law’s insistence on hosting Thanksgiving dinner irritate you? Does that emotion come from a feeling of lack of control? Dinner would have to be the way she likes it, and would not include your spin on a recipe. Is it important for your voice to be heard, or is honoring what she wants more important? Whatever arises, run with it.

Also, have you considered her point of view? Maybe she wants to take the weight off your shoulders by hosting. Or maybe she sees that she can only host for so many more years. Is your resentment unfounded and unnecessary?

Take the time and space to decide what is more important to you. This is not a matter of being right or wrong. Perhaps you realize you actually like to manage gatherings. Maybe you feel deprived of that opportunity because of your mother-in-law.

Ultimately, know that facing ‘sandpaper’ relationships and people gives you a golden opportunity to heal what needs healing in you, however you decide to handle the situation.

Acknowledge the lesson you have learned, give thanks to the person (yes, you can do it!), and then move on. The next time you come across someone who reminds you of that person, you’ll be better equipped to stay with your truth when you’re with them.